LSL tells buyers to expect costlier mortgages

The estate agent behind the Your Move and Marsh & Parsons chains braced would-be homebuyers yesterday to expect dearer mortgages amid mounting alarm over Europe's debt woes.

Simon Embley, LSL Property Services' chief executive, said caution among mortgage lenders was likely to intensify as Greece's future in the euro, and a potentially disastrous default, hung in the balance.

"It is a lot more difficult for a consumer to get a mortgage today than it was four months ago," he said. "The lenders have changed their strategy since the start of the year, from being market share-led to being profit-led.

"Funding costs will be more difficult for the banks if the spectre of the Greek default becomes a reality. It could get even worse than Greece because what the market is really worried about is the collapse of something like Italy."

LSL, the UK's second-biggest estate agency chain behind Countrywide, saw brisk business in March as buyers rushed to beat the deadline on stamp duty extensions, although April was "disappointing" as a result. Trading so far in May has recovered to normal levels.

On the flip side of sluggish sales, LSL's lettings business was up23 per cent year on year.